WATERTOWN, Wis. (mbusabercats.com) --- Resilience was the story of 2017, as an experienced Sabercats team found themselves frustrated on multiple occasions in their pursuit of the program wins record - a record which closely evaded them for the past two seasons. Despite losing by four runs or fewer on 18 occasions, the Sabercats stayed on top of their game to take five wins in their last six competitions, which produced a silver lining to a record that was indeed below expectations.
- Record: 7-27
- Home Record: 6-2
- Team Awards: Caleb Prigge: Coach's Award; Adam Courtney: MVP - Offensive; Micah Burdett: MVP - Defensive; Caleb Courtney: MVP; Clint Matheis: Pitching Ace
- AD3I All-Independents: TBA
- NCCAA All-Region: TBA
- Other: Wes Wagner: 56 RBIs - Single-season record
The season began with the traditional spring trip, and the Sabercats had their hands full when they faced the perennial NCCAA powerhouse of Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tennessee. Hiwassee eventually was ranked seventh in the NCCAA, and the Sabercats came close to taking the first game, as they eventually lost 2-4 to the Tigers, who went on to sweep the doubleheader. Despite another quality showing at the Berea College Mountaineers, the Sabercats emerged from a competitive spring trip without a win.
MBU had to wait until April 1 to post that first win, and they did it in fantastic fashion. Down 2-11 in their final at-bat, the Sabercats stormed back with a 10-run rally to record the 12-11 away win over the University of Minnesota-Morris (read the full recap here). That win came in a tight series in Morris, where the hosting Cougars took home two wins from a three-game series up north.
Despite the momentum of that incredible comeback, the Sabercats still could not add to their wins tally, as they were frustrated by competitive losses against quality opposition from the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference - tight losses to Edgewood, Wisconsin Lutheran, MSOE, Dominican, and Concordia-Wisconsin marked a difficult April schedule.
The Sabercats' hard work finally paid off with a 2-1 win over Trinity International on April 17, and home sweeps of Lincoln Christian (April 25) and Finlandia (April 28), combined with a split of a Parents' Day doubleheader with Finlandia on the 20th of April marked a progressing end to the Sabercats' season. In-command pitching from Dennis Reinhardt, Micah Burdett, Caleb Courtney, and Jordan Garrison kept the visitors' bats silent during the home stretch, and, fittingly - it was Burdett who concluded the season (and the careers of six seniors) with a two-hit shutout of Finlandia, as the Sabercats notched a 13-0 win to conclude the year.
In that stretch of wins, Wes Wagner ripped in his 49th career RBI, which broke the career record in the category in MBU program history. Wagner would go on to drive in seven more runs in the season's final week, and his 56-RBI total stands as the career record for Maranatha Baseball.*
"Even though we did not accomplish our goal of breaking the school record for wins in a season, it was a very successful season," said head coach Gary Garrison after the season. "Much experience was gained for those to follow as well as credibility that was established with our opponents. Our starting pitching was very good all year long, [but] we underachieved at the plate. We just did not get the clutch hits that we needed to win those close games."
Still, the Sabercats showed steely resolve which was evidenced by those five wins in the last six games to end the season. "The team handled the close-game losses in an amazing way and kept battling through it all," Garrison remarked. "It was a lesson in dealing with adversity that will serve them well in years to come. Their resilience and refusal to quit were outstanding. The character of the six seniors really became apparent as they battled and never got down on themselves. They were an excellent example to the rising upperclassmen."
In terms of his outlook on next season, Garrison remarked that "[those six seniors] certainly will be a tough group to replace, but I have good confidence in our returning pitchers. We will certainly rely heavily on the three rising seniors!"
For more on the 2017 Sabercats baseball team, visit their team page here.
More about MBU Athletics: The mission of the Athletic Department of Maranatha Baptist University is to develop leadership skills in the student-athlete through skilled training, godly mentoring, and intercollegiate competition.
*Only documented records are used when compiling the all-time statistics. If you find an error or omission, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with documentation of your proposed corrections.